Friday, June 9, 2017

The Rule of Love

Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."

Rules and instructions are a good thing. They keep us safe, teach us about boundaries and help us live in civilization, and even get rewarded. We all experienced one of these, and/or all, either told by another person or written on how to drive a car, how to put together a book shelf from IKEA, grow a rose, operate the DVR. Today, YouTube is filled with how-to's on just about everything! --And shall I mention Pinterest!

Rules are a bit more serious. They help us obey our parents, keep our job, stay out of jail, and board an airplane safely and securely.


Did you know there were rules to fly a kite?

This week my husband's written instructions were not exactly correct. Facing a serious surgery, he followed what the anesthesiologist wrote, "take all heart meds as usual with a small sip of water." Stopping his .81 aspirin, the only other instruction given a week before at his pre-op appointment, he continued to follow the directions. This might have, probably would have...caused a very serious bleeding problem. Leg shaved and marked up, hospital gown in place, his surgeon went over the instructions and double-checked for accuracy. He caught the mistake.




The body of the story in my manuscript is pretty much complete. I am working on edits and now starting the not so fun job of formatting and preparing it for submission. Rules apply. Today I spent most of the day converting, indenting, changing fonts, eliminating white space and pictures. Tedious indeed! The last thing I want is for my work to be ignored because I didn't follow rules of submission. A special friend and teacher instructs me in this truth.

Another bestie friend practices relentlessly with her partner getting ready to perform a special dance in a musical production on Sunday. There are steps to follow and counts to hear for the swirls and twirls. She has a more difficult time with moving and learning quickly because she is a bit older; she dances with her son! (so sweet).  Oh, if only I could move how she does! Her discipline and passion to dance at her best encourage me to be my best at what I am passionate about. Yet this week she discovered something, a position her elbows were in, affecting her posture when she dances, Now, she must re-learn to keep her elbows back. It is an instruction, a new way of looking at things for improvement. No one will notice her elbows, but she will be thinking about it, wanting to feel at ease with her son and get through the performance flawlessly. I know they will succeed.  *

God gave us instructions. He said, "Love Me, love one another." His rules to live by were given to Moses and the Israelites, the 10 Commandments. If we follow the instructions first, to love God with all our heart and then love one another, the "rules" become natural. We want to follow God and be obedient. But sometimes, instructions get messed up, we break rules, we don't love God as we think we should, we don't love each other very well.



The Holy Spirit counsels us on our mistakes. He renews our instructions in grace and we get a do-over.
When it comes to submitting to God, we can come just as we are. He formats us in all the right places and prepares our story for His glory. When we are practicing the dance of faith, God gently reveals to us our steps and guides us in His wisdom, orchestrating trust in Him, our Lead.


The surgeon, the hospital, rescheduled. A do over. 
My manuscript needs attention and guidelines and in time, it will be ready. A work in progress.
My friend recognized her mistake. She will continue to move and dance despite a slight flaw. A perseverant attitude. 


Lord, we can never be perfect, good enough, follow every rule, know every instruction for living a Holy life. You knew that. It is why You sent Your Son to take our sin away for us. That is a free gift called Grace. Your Word is our instruction manual. Keep me aware of Your ways, Your truth, not some watered down version or worldy advice. Edit out those habits that distract me from obedience. Hold me accountable with like-minded friends who walk alongside me serving You with love and sincere hearts. Thank You for the doctor finding the mistake this week, even though it means waiting. Thank You that I have people in my life who mentor me in my publishing quest. Thank You for friends that inspire me! You are a God who loves us first, Your loving eyes are upon us! Lord, may I love You and love others in a way that pleases You. Every day is a new day to do Your will, follow You and be obedient. Thank You for every new day of Grace. Amen.




Chris Tomlin
I Will Follow 
*

Friday, May 26, 2017

Help Wanted, Help Received, Every Day

Psalm 121:1-2 "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

It is almost here! We're on the final approach. Crossing the "t"s and dotting the "i"s,  having conversations, testing, cleaning up, stopping and starting, scheduling, seeing this doc and that P.A., this nurse and that other doc. Questions asked and answered and papers documented, going over the dos and don'ts before, preparing and...PRAYING! 





This date of his full knee-replacement is just around the corner. God, our Helper, knows the plan, and guides us to continue in the everyday while we wait and move forward. He showed us the way while some major things were dealt with. In the waiting, the right doctor came back from a leave of absence, and the date given? Just a few days into summer break, when school is out and I am home. God orchestrated all this. In our waiting and obedience, He lined up the ducks all in a row and they are moving swiftly now up a stream of anticipation of healing and hope. 

Where does our help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Your Will, not mine, for Your glory. 

~~~

A wonderful conference came together with volunteers and church staff support. I doubted my abilities, but never God's. I gave it to Him, dedicating the day to my mentor and dear friend and prayed for our purpose. Placing the day at His feet, my eyes gazed upon the beauty of my garden and knew from seeds planted and deep roots, My Helper never fails me. He knows my weaknesses and in them He is glorified. 

Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. You are a Mighty God!




A gathering family, ready to celebrate and regroup--love one another, but news breaks--a difficult situation. Not the expected, yet even in the next few hours, God's indwelling Spirit gives grace, spoken in gentle words and support, unity and hope. Yes, the processing happens but God, already at work, places the right people before and after reassuring in the pain and confusion. He rises above and His magnificence shines and we KNOW because He does a mighty work in us everyday! A vacancy appears and only One can best fill it. The Spirit lifts eyes and hearts and hears the prayers. In this Lord, You will be glorified. In this, we thank You. 

Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Great and gracious are You, Lord. 




Lord, everyday our own little world brings challenges. Everyday, I look to You, to trust that You are much bigger, omniscient and omnipresent just for me and my circumstances.   Every day Lord, growing closer to You sometimes comes in waiting. Everyday Lord, I need a Helper. Everyday Lord, Your promises guide every step in the waiting, revealed in the doing and glorified in the giving over. You Lord, are the Maker of Heaven and Earth! You know the future and in that I lift my eyes, trust You and keep praying for Your wisdom and strength. I am living in a broken world...I am broken, yet You see me blessed as I strive and call on Your Name, hire You as my Helper, wait on Your answers, feel Your Winds of direction and encourage others waiting and hoping as I am, together, believing that You make all things good in Your perfect timing. Thank You Lord for being our Helper, then and now and always. Amen. 







                          
Praise You in the Storm
Casting Crowns 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Treasure Box Moments

Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."


It always catches my eye, something sparkling, something shiny, on the ground near me.  I see it reflecting the sunlight as I'm walking past, on the concrete, stuck in the low places. It is usually broken,  lost.

I've been doing this for many years. A collection or shall I say a "treasure box" holds them, waiting until one day I can use them in art--like multi-medium, or a three-dimensional embellishment.

They once served a purpose as part of something, but became loose, separated, a bit bent. Once they are found though, I like to think their purpose is brought up to another level, waiting with the others until their do time, to shine again.

I've only told one other person about this crazy habit of mine. When these little bits of broken jewelry or clothing decor started appearing, I thought they were little messages from Heaven, to encourage me...a heart,  a butterfly...yes, I've found several of each. Sometimes, I found stars, and I felt God just telling me I was on the right track, ...keep shining.




~~~

For the last several months, my writing and ministry partner, Linda,  and I, embarked on a dream of extending our writers' group to a community event, hosting a half day writer's conference, to connect aspiring writers with others and encourage the journey. We hoped to even inspire the beginning of other writer's groups in other churches or elsewhere. After all, we have enjoyed great success in our 8 years, seeing many completed manuscripts and published articles.

Linda has thrived through her health challenges over the years,  despite some setbacks.  She is a miracle, living 30 years past the date the docs said she wouldn't.  This year, her battle has taken her to the front lines, hospitalized for 3 weeks in February and for the last 8 1/2 weeks again. Yes, you read that right, 8 1/2 weeks!  With the encouragement of the Body of Christ, I press on to make this conference, this initial concept of hers a reality. The big day is tomorrow. Though she came home yesterday, she will be unable to attend the event she so invisioned and prayed for to become another step of faith in her heart for writers and her Lord.  My heart is broken over this.  God has a plan and I see part of it is to stretch me.




Our goal stays the same, to build relationships through our common love of writing and in that, be salt and light. I dedicate the day to Linda, my writing mentor and dear friend, for without her, I would never have believed that God gave me this gift to write and share His truth in and through story. I would not be a leader in my church, respected and healed from the hurts of the past. God goes before me, slaying the giants that loom on the horizon.


~~~

As I have written before in this blog, God has a way of tangibly showing me His glory and love, His steadfast encouragement. Driving into work this morning, no DJ talked, just three songs played until I parked:

Strong Enough ~ Matthew West
The Heart of Worship ~ Matt Redman
Hills and Valleys ~ Tauren Wells

I immediately recognized my journey putting this conference together without Linda, that God is strong enough despite our weaknesses, that when we set out to bring Him glory, He will accomplish great things through us, despite the pitfalls and that God is with us in every hill and every valley as well as the mountaintops of our lives. What a great God I serve!

~~~

I took the students out to their P.E. class, sitting on the bleachers watching them play baseball.  I looked down at this sort of shiny object, a scuffed up, bent star. I reached for it and smiled, hearing God's voice  telling me all was good, keep trusting. I snapped a picture and sent it to my only friend that knows about my secret treasure box.




A bit ago, she knocked at my door with a note for me and a heart shaped box. Reading the verse, I am overwhelmed with God's way of showing me His love in the treasure box of special friends that surround me.






From her jean business, she found a stud that came loose. She placed in on her desk for a few days, never tossing it. Today, after receiving my picture and text of the star I found, she collected the shiny stud, wrote the note and made her way over to my house, her little gift in hand. I reached in my pocket and placed the scuffed up, bent star next to the beautiful shiny stud she gave me and proclaimed the truth, God makes beauty from ashes. He takes what is broken, lost... and brings it to glittering, shining beauty for His glory in and through our faith.





Lord, tomorrow is going to be good. Linda, God's got both of us, He always has. You are my shining star and I am yours and together we make up a sky full of the faithful, all for His glory. Melody, thank you for always making me smile with the smallest of gestures but the biggest heart. Lord, I thank you for allowing me to see Your vision that we persevere even when it seems impossible to press on. Lord, you make all things possible when we put our trust in You. Amen.



 Strong Enough ~ Matthew West 
For you, Linda. 



Friday, April 28, 2017

Complete Joy in Friendship

Philippians 2: 1-2 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose... 

A conversation took place this week between me and one of my closest friends. We talk almost everyday and even when we don't, I know, she knows, that our thoughts aren't far away from each other. I even texted her a question, a text she never received because she didn't have her phone with her, but she answered me anyway...10 minutes after I texted, on a different device. Yeah---we're just connected that way. 









Anyway, as we shared this week about other people we love and are praying for--all this stuff and heartache, people in desperate situations, health dilemmas, and ongoing family separations, we agreed, it is all so hard, but it is our choice--that we feel deeply, petition, encourage one another, hope together and love one another because the other alternative is isolation. We wouldn't have each other or the beautiful relationship and trust God ordained. Friendships with Christ at the center blooms continuously out the window of our souls, a creative, tangible view of God at work. 

Isolation: No true, authentic friendships in which one can share the deepest of hurts, frustrations, fears, prayers, intimate insights, JOY and HOPE from God. I am sure there are a number of reasons why this happens, but God doesn't intend our lives to be that way. Hope comes from seeing it in another and then believing it for yourself. It is a promise from God. God also instructed us to live in fellowship with one another. 

There is always, always HOPE.






I cannot imagine my life without these close friends who all are dealing with pain of some sort. We talk every day, share every day, pray for one another every day and love God in and with each other every day. God is good. I am hurting for all of them. I cry to God. They have done that for me--do that for me now. I know. I know I am deeply loved and cared for by each one of them in their unique and gifted ways. I learn and see God beautifully in my life through these women of faith. 

In His timing and sovereignty, God will make a way. Then, we will again, feel deeply and cry, rejoicing and praising our Heavenly Father for His divine intervention and our growth in trusting Him. 





It is a choice--to have a deep, intimate, authentic relationship with the Lord or to isolate yourself in your sorrows, disappointments and fears and pretend that nothing matters outside your own bubble of hurt. Eventually, I think, that just might turn into resentment and a very lonely existence. 

One small step of trust, one tiny but faithful prayer to lead you to a true and trusted friend, might just find you surrounded in a circle of deep and passionate relationships who will be your warriors when times are desperate or when joy is over flowing in your heart. It must go somewhere and to me there is no better feeling then praising God with friends who have prayed right along side for God to make Himself known. 





Lord, tonight I pray for the isolated, the hurt, the lonley souls that do not or choose not to trust in friendships. We are still abiding on this earth, thus we are not perfected yet, but God desires for us to live in unity and fellowship, and we must trust Him for the right people alongside us. Help me Lord to be the kind of friend that encourages and prays unceasingly for my friends and believes in all things good, that Your Hope and Your Joy are awaiting us. Thank You Lord that I, that we have seen it and we await for it again. We wait to plan a party! Amen. 






Brother (or Sister)
NEEDTOBREATHE with Gavin DeGraw 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tangible, Visible Evidence

Ephesians 3:14-16 "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." 


A question was asked of me, of others this week, "how have you seen a visible, tangible, representation of God--His Holy Spirit dwelling in you?

When I opened my spiritual eyes, recognized my wretchedness before God,  my own sin, then responded to His calling, His open arms and smiling face, I received His Holy Spirit. In that moment of surrender, of knowing I am in need of His mercy--that intimacy between myself and His Spirit recreates a miracle and the connection to His Holy work, that which He willed for my life. This is a constant prayer, "Lord, Your will, not mine." The spiritual becomes the tangible in changed lives, changed desires, changed conversations, changed hopes and new dreams. It also allows a unique perspective, to see more of God in every thing, no matter how random, how insignificant, how worthless the world might judge. That is Holy Spirit.




Everyone sins, misses the mark of perfection and thus, separated from the Holy, (Romans 3:23). At first I just knew from what I was taught-- God made me, and that His Son, Jesus, died for me and that God is Love. If I believed that, I would go to Heaven one day and live there forever. Of course, when you are nine years old, that seems pretty reasonable, simple. God whispered in my ear, "I love you, will you love Me back?"

"Yes," I answered. God came into my heart by means of asking for forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit. Can I explain that at the age of  nine? No, but I knew I belonged to Him that day. Serving Him has always been important to me as I studied His Word and served in various ministries. In all this time, some 50 plus years later, the Holy Spirit navigates my steps to a deeper relationship with Him. Have I spent some time being idle, drifting? Yes, I have gone down wayward roads and sat for too long on the bench for the luke warm, watching but not participating. He calls me back and convicts my heart, leading me into His grace and fellowship. I know and recognize that God dwells within me in the form of the Holy Spirit. I didn't need a bunch of classes, a party or a ceremony to know that, to experience His indwelling in me. My prayers for more of Him, my proactive trust--enough. My growing faith in story--evidence, tangible and visible.  And then there are those goose bump moments. That IS Holy Spirit.

We all want to test the world, and we all wander, striving, curious humans we are. When God keeps ringing your spiritual phone of your heart, and He hears busy signals or hang-ups, or just no answer at all...but He persists by sending certain people and certain circumstances and signs--that is tangible Holy Spirit.

When  placed in a compromising situation or have to make a choice and most say one thing, but your heart is saying another, you are feeling that voice of discernment giving you strength--that is Holy Spirit.

When one longs for their mom, sister or brother,  spouse, the kids, best friends, the neighbors, to walk along side you in this journey, seeking growth and knowledge, wisdom and blessings, hope and purpose, pure fellowship of His goodness---more of Him, --that is Holy Spirit.

When you are called to a ministry you never thought possible, to leadership positions and opportunities no one would have placed you in, when scripture comes alive and is always applicable to your situation and prayers, when you have the constant desire to be in His Word, fellowship with His people and seek Him through your trials and adversity--that is Holy Spirit.

One day, my mind and heart crashed and melted. Grief-stricken, drained and depleted from my own thoughts and words, God took over. His Spirit activated a palpable, tangible love on me and began the process of showing me how to lift my head again. I look up and I look back... and I know His grace. His promises I find within me, even more intense than before,  guiding me to His purpose. Part of His healing plan, He stirs and sieves the brokenness, replacing it with Hope. It is tangible, like a frown becoming a smile--that is Holy Spirit.



He lifted my head, to see not one, but dozens of swallowtail butterflies coming down from the trees filtering my grief-filled prayers up to Heaven. They surrounded me in the Light of a new day and a different life, but a hope-filled life. Ten years later, another single, transformed butterfly of the same genus, a swallowtail, lands on my windshield as I am stopped at a light and dances across to my driver's side, constantly fluttering, encouraging me and loving me, a tangible reminder that His Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in me and I recognize and feel  LOVED as tears flow. The radio plays Chris Tomlin at that very moment--and that is Holy Spirit, and that is God!


There's a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I've ever found.
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.


At the CROSS, that is tangilble, visible in my heart. Hallelujah! 

The butterfly is not something to be worshipped, for it too is temporary, a manifestation of His beauty in creation, but scripture reminds us in Romans 1:19-20:

...because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and devine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

and in Luke 19:40  "And He answered and said, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"





Father God, thank You for my salvation and that I know and want more than just the promise of Heaven. Your Holy Spirit was sent to believers so that we can participate in the Holy and receive Your power and strength. You saved me so that I may glorify Your name! What a privilege to be called to Your Plan, to find my own purpose within the gifts You have given me and the discovery of so much through fellowship and Your Word. Because Your Holy Spirit dwells within my soul, my Helper, Strength-giver and Inspirer, I can accomplish mighty things for Your Kingdom, for Your glory, in that I am awed and humbled, thank You Lord. Holy Spirit, thank You for hearing my long prayers, my simple prayers, my utterances and all my thoughts towards wanting Your Will and even those words and thoughts not aligning with Your Will. In that, You bring about Your discerning wisdom and lead me to better places and/or bring about obedience which leaves tangible evidence, for Your glory. Thank You Lord for Your prompts to pray, to listen, to watch and to wait. Thank You Lord for giving me Hope. As I have told my story, some have said to me, "I don't see God like you do..." Oh, Lord, I know that they can, if only they take the time to humble themselves, be authentic before You, asking You for that gift You left for us, Your Holy Spirit, God dwelling within us and among us. God, You so loved the world, every one of us can know You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit--You are welcome here. Amen.

                                         

                                           FRANCESCA BATTISTELLI ~  HOLY SPIRIT



Friday, March 3, 2017

The Greater Grace

Psalm 86: 12-13  "I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Thy name forever. For Thy lovingkindness toward me is great, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol." 

I said goodbye to a collegue, a man whose friendship I treasure and whose wisdom and grounding in Truth encouraged me at work. He retired. Bon voyage, Art. I will miss your greetings across campus, "How ya doin' Sis?!" Grace is made greater when friendships are centered around His faithfulness.

I honored a classmate's passing; again cancer rears its ugly head and wins the earthly battle, but eternity is a victory. I didn't know him in school, yet I knew him in what we shared; God, classmate friends, family love, a neighborhood and The Dodgers. RIP Alan.  I now have two new friends, your son and daughter. Grace is made greater when we can serve one another.

February 27th this year fell on Monday. Ten years ago, it was on a Tuesday. Myself, my husband and my youngest son received the heart-breaking news that our oldest son, our brother, did not survive the clutches of a deteriorating disease he suffered with most his life. He was only 26. His name is Timothy. Grace, my emulsion, my strength, my soul-giving breath continues to guide me and strengthen me to understand a God who is great, a God who is good. Even in the darkest of times, God's grace is greater.

In my time with my writing group this week, our prompt for our journal session was to write about grace, its impact on our life. Well, I kidded with the my writing partner who penned this particular opening segment of our curriculum...

"I wrote a whole book already on that subject!"

She laughed along with me, knowing that "grace" in itself, is what we all write about in every word we attempt to put together to makes sentences, to explain our insignificant lives--but how He in His grace set upon and in us, changes us. He makes us significant and continues to do so.

So, I wrote and in my "not allowed editorializing" before I shared my words, I stated that this might just be the beginning of another book of my amazing moments with God who so lovingly shows me His care of my heart concerning the loss of my son. His visible grace I received on a day marking a 10-year anniversary and I serve a God who lavishes lovingkindness on me and delivers my soul in a very clear yet personal way. So Amazing. So thankful. So Good.

✞✞✞

Dylan. He is 20 now, so that would make him 10 years old when we first moved here, just 5 short months after Timmy died. We shared this townhouse, his family on the other side of our common wall.  Dylan and his brother Jordan came over frequently, to love on us and share with us. Their mom and dad, Raul and Ronda became like family.We felt for the first time in many years like we were "home." That was so God. He graced us with this home, orchestrating this place...these neighbors, so we could settle in, so we might grieve surrounded by His care and love. It DOES come generously in His servants.We love those two boys, and I believe God placed us here, next door to the Zavaletas for His purpose and comfort.

So now, ten years later,  my husband and I plan a half-day at Disneyland, dinner somewhere--just be together to remember the day Tim went to heaven. It rained, poured hard all the way to the Park, but stopped as we parked following the car in front of us. We merged from our vehicle as the occupants next to us do the same--Dylan, and his girlfriend, randomly parking right next to us in the biggest parking lot in the country. After the laughs, selfie-taking, and chit-chat, they went on their way and we did the same. I felt God...I heard God say to me...

"Remember...not just Timmy, but how I chose to bless you, give you comfort in your grief. I moved you to a better place, a good place, and surrounded you with love. Dylan is that reminder, of 10 years in your home and 10 years of seeking Me and allowing Me to love you and show you My glory." 








I knew we would have a good day.

We chose ESPN Zone to have dinner, a place represented by sports, fans and good food, three things my son loved. The server walked us to a booth right in the middle of the restaurant with a clear view of the huge TV, the LA Kings skating against the Minnesota Wild. Ted and I ordered and as I enjoyed a glass of wine, I read the scrolling trivia atop the screen, the "Did you know" questions and answers zipping by as the defense and offence slashed across the ice below.

"Did you know that Barry Bonds holds the home run record of 762 runs in his career? 

As a matter of fact, I DID know that, because a chapter in my book recollects that moment he hit that ball, achieved that record the summer we moved, the summer right after Tim's death...the summer I thought a lot about heaven.

Then those dates scroll along...1954-1980.

I have to wait another 10 minutes for the board to repeat itself so I could see those dates again. Those dates...get its content. I knew what they meant to me.

1954, the year I was born. 1980, the year Tim was born.

..."but he does not hold the world record. That is held by Sunahara Oh, a Japanese player who out hit Barry Bonds by 160 home runs in a career spanning from 1954-1980."

I take a picture on the next loop with my cell phone.




Later that night, I would ask my husband, Ted, what he thought that meant--seeing those two dates, those years on that screen as we were "celebrating" a heavenly birthday. Ten years of hearing from God and receiving His grace and comfort in so, so many significant and amazing ways--I am always the one to interpret, to know the meaning, to ponder and recognize.

But not this time. I asked Ted, not even trying to analyze it. I asked the father of our son to tell me what Our Father meant by showing me those dates.

"God's showing you the bond between a mother and a son, that He understands and knows you miss him. You and Timmy--together, forever."

(Did he know he used the word "bond?"...that was unintentional, right)?



God is so Good. His lovingkindness towards me is great! Greater than a huge parking lot with thousands of cars and people. Greater than cheering crowds and professional hockey players and broadcast capabilities. Greater than Disneyland and rain storms and home run records!

His lovingkindness is greater than my grief. For I have experienced the depths of that emotion and God has delivered me from the part that leaves me feeling alone, insignificant, angry, questioning, worthless, empty, fearful...doubting. He made Tim's time here significant. Grace does that. Grace continues to do that. He keeps giving and showing me beauty in this ugliness of what we call death. For death in grace is only an earthly, flesh, temporary departure. Death in Christ is a home run straight to eternity. That is something so significant, one can't help but proclaim His goodness, scroll it out in the words and actions of my heart. 

Thank You Lord for your grace, your lovingkindness towards me. Thank You for the grace that saved my son and brought him to eternity where we will see each other again in Your Glory. Thank You for giving me such amazing moments that point to Your lovingkindness towards all who believe in You and seek You in their time of great need. With all my heart, I cannot thank You enough for Your gift of grace, an undeserved favor from You, the Holy One, my Creator and Giver of all things good. Help me Lord to also be a grace-giver in these times when Your lovingkindness is needed in so many dark places.  You are good, Amen.


                                                Your Grace Finds Me ~ Matt Reddman






Friday, February 24, 2017

Mind Full of TIME

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven---."





What do people say about time?

"TIME flies when you're having fun."

"There is no TIME like the present."

"You are 'behind the TIMES' with that thinking."

TIME out, TIME served, crunch TIME.

TIME is money!

In the nick of TIME.

Save TIME.

TIME is of the essence...

It's only a matter of TIME.

What was that last one? ...Only a matter of TIME? Until what?

Solomon tells us, until your "appointed TIME, your event under heaven."

↔↔↔

Time flies.Ten years have whizzed by since that day my husband walked through the corridor to find me exiting the chapel in that out of the way hospital--to meet me---broken heart to broken heart, my oldest friend on one side of him, my younger son on the other.

The words at the moment, time shattering and for my moments to come, timeless.

"He didn't make it...He died."

Time stands still.

Since that TIME, I've pursued with every beat of my own heart... to make TIME count,

Double TIME...Well actually... triple TIME, for God, Timmy and myself.

↻↻↻

If you know me, you know I like things that symbolize, commemorate, honor; I'm a collector of keepsakes of TIME well spent.

This last Christmas, we purchased a faux Christmas tree--the first of any larger-sized, focal-point tree we've had since Tim passed away into God's Light, 10 years ago. We happened on it--the right TIME and place. The perfect skinny shape, size and price, it fit perfectly at the bottom of my staircase. After Christmas was over, New Year's Day past, all the decorations tucked away, there stood my cute,  snowy, glittery tree.

A Valentine's Day tree, I thought. It will commemorate that holiday and Tim's 10 years in Heaven--a good excuse to leave it up!  

So, I did just that, giving it and me...more TIME. After a few visits to the Dollar Tree (love that place), and a few things I've had over TIME, Timmy's Love Tree came together. For such a TIME as this, 10 years since his passing, a tree with roots of Love and branches that sparkle like Heaven shines, standing for the memory of our son in this anniversary month.








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What does ten years feel like? Like it just happened?  Yes, some days. The TIMES I have spent with God in healing and listening and reading His Word are immeasurable. In one quick moment, I can hear from the Lord and be uplifted and inspired the whole day. In other TIMES, I miss him so much I feel it physically. God is with me in both situations. TIME marches on, and moves closer to my own homecoming, my own appointed TIME. The cliche, TIME heals, may just give distance, a distance one has learned control in, but I can testify that TIME spent seeking God is what truly brings healing.

So, I make TIME to give Him glory for all He bestows, lavishs on me,  to bring me comfort and insight through all this TIME.

I believe God is pleased with how I have used my TIME to get to know Him more intimately, in ministry, my writing...my story, to make Him known.

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Life is TIME consuming, especially with all the ways we get caught up in,  to waste TIME. I am encouraged by scripture which tells me:

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom."

Ephesians 1:9-10 "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the TIMES, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the Earth, in Him." As a plan for the fullness of TIME, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth."

11 Corinthians 6:2  For He says, "At the acceptable TIME I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold now is the acceptable TIME; behold, now is the day of salvation." 




Father God, thank You for the TIME allotted to me to craft my writing skills and use them to give You glory. Help me Lord to fill my days, not with regrets but with anticipation of what You have in store for me. Thank You for my precious TIME with my son Timothy, even those really hard TIMES. Your will is good and perfect and I trust You in all things. Lord, for those whose days are numbered, (and that is every one of us), help us to draw closer to You and manage our TIME wisely, to include You in our day so that You can pour out Your blessings You have stored up for us. Lord, we do not know when our TIME is, nor do we know the appointed TIME of Your appearance again, but Lord, You ask only that we believe in Your earthly TIME as our Savior and Your Heavenly Time as our Father. Because we trust You, Your plans are good for our welfare and our future. Lord, thank You for the Eternal Time we will have with You in Heaven, for that is our Hope. Amen.



Better Is One Day ~ Kutless 


Timothy B. VanTilburg 
DOB 9-25-1980
Reached Heaven 2-27-2007